Top Four Fast, Delicious (and Surprisingly Healthy!) Lunch Choices

1. Sandwiches and Wraps

According to some very reputable source on the internet, sandwiches are the top source of calories in the Standard American Diet. If you’re at all surprised, remember that Big Macs and Fatburgers fall under the sandwich category.

Don’t worry, though, because sandwiches can be healthy! Not just healthy but also yummy as a cheeseburger and healthy as a… I don’t know, a collard green? Whatever, just really healthy! And even if you’re on Atkins/Paleo/raw vegan/tapeworm diet (just kidding!) you can always use lettuce or coconut wraps to make a burrito/roll type thing that fits your needs.

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This is love.

For lunch today I had the best motherlovin’ sandwich ever. It was made with 45-calorie 100% whole wheat bread toasted with Jarlsberg Lite with some dijon mustard, roasted bell peppers, tomato, lettuce, and 1/4 of an avocado. Yum! These are just the things I had on hand, too, so it was super convenient to make.

Oh yeah, and you know what I had on the side of my sandwich? That’s right…

2. Salad!

I know, I know, salad gets a horrible rap from everyone. Salad. It’s like longhand for “sad.” Fitness websites are always whining about how restaurant salads are so deceptive and they are full of mayonnaise and bacon and fried chips and blah blah blah! Everyone hates subsisting on pathetic little leaves of lettuce all in the name of health. And worse yet are those stupid bloggers (oopsies) who go on and on and on about how much they love salads! Who can stand them?

But you know what? Salads can be healthy and yummy, and not just by Slim-Fast standards. A good salad can just be a bunch of (preferably healthy) leftovers with veggies and stuff. It can be whatever you want it to be.

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Summer salad – romaine, watermelon, and baked tofu

So spiralize those cucumbers! Sprinkle on the hulled barley and walnuts. And if you want, spray some olive oil or add a bit of non-diabetes-causing dressing.

3. Soup

There’s nothing better than a nice warm soup on a chilly day. Or a nice chilled soup on a hot day. Or a hearty room temperature soup after a long day. You get the idea.

The best part is that you can freeze and reheat most soups so you can make a huge batch and eat it for months if you’re into the whole meal-prepping thing. You can use practically any ingredients you have to make a great soup. I personally love my soymilk machine (yes, soymilk machine) for making soup – it purees and cooks all the ingredients so I get wonderfully creamy-tasting soups, minus the cream.

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Pumpkin soup topped with plain nonfat Greek yogurt, basil, and pepitas.

4. Leftover Mashup

Okay, I realize that pretty much everything here could be a leftover mashup, but sometimes you just want to combine leftovers without even calling it a soup, salad, or sandwich, ya feel?

Sometimes you just want to get food out of the fridge and scarf it down. I definitely feel that a lot.

Well, how can you make this random mashup of leftovers healthy? Easy! You’ve just got to make sure you get three important components: veggies (duh), protein, and (unless you’re on Atkins of whatever, then you can sub cauli rice or spiralized noodles or whatever) starch.

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I just want to eat it all right now.

So no matter how busy you are, no excuses! Eat something healthy, yummy, and easy to make. Now that’s a triumvirate of dieting success.

I'm happy because I'm no longer hungry.

I’m happy because I’m no longer hungry.

Food For Thought

I love Sunday mornings.  I like the serenity before everyone rises.  This morning I indulged in a little esoteric reading with a cup of English breakfast tea before Peter got up. The book was Alice In Wonderland Cookbook by John Fisher and Lewis Carroll.  Included in the book is an essay that Lewis Carroll wrote in 1907 titled Feeding the Mind. 

 He begins: “Breakfast, dinner, tea; in extreme cases, breakfast, luncheon, dinner, tea, supper, and a glass of something hot at bedtime. What care we take about feeding the lucky body! Which of us does as much for his mind? And what causes the difference? Is the body so much the more important of the two? By no means: but life depends on the body being fed, whereas we can continue to exist as animals though the mind be utterly starved and neglected. Therefore Nature provides that, in case of serious neglect of the body, such terrible consequences of discomfort and pain shall ensue, as will soon bring us back to a sense of our duty: and some of the functions necessary to life she does for us altogether, leaving us no choice in the matter. It would fare but ill with many of us if we were left to superintend our own digestion and circulation. . . . The consequences of neglecting the body can be clearly seen and felt; and it might be well for some if the mind were equally visible and tangible—if we could take it, say, to the doctor, and have its pulse felt.”

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He goes on to propose four key factors for what we consume intellectually—type, amount, variety, and frequency: “First, then, we should set ourselves to provide for our mind its proper kind of food. We very soon learn what will, and what will not, agree with the body, and find little difficulty in refusing a piece of the tempting pudding or pie which is associated in our memory with that terrible attack of indigestion, and whose very name irresistibly recalls rhubarb and magnesia; but it takes a great many lessons to convince us how indigestible some of our favorite lines of reading are, and again and again we make a meal of the unwholesome novel, sure to be followed by its usual train of low spirits, unwillingness to work, weariness of existence — in fact, by mental nightmare.”

“Then we should be careful to provide this wholesome food in proper amount… Then, again, though the food be wholesome and in proper amount, we know that we must not consume too many kinds at once… Having settled the proper kind, amount, and variety of our mental food, it remains that we should be careful to allow proper intervals between meal and meal, and not swallow the food hastily without mastication, so that it may be thoroughly digested; both which rules, for the body, are also applicable at once to the mind… And then, as to the mastication of the food, the mental process answering to this is simply thinking over what we read. This is a very much greater exertion of mind than the mere passive taking in the contents of our Author…”

 In this age of information overload, this 107-year-old musing seems to be as relevant as ever.  So often we sit in front of a computer and feed our brains the kind of indigestible junk food we would not have fed our body.

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Carroll ends with an entertaining “test” for healthy mental digestion: “To ascertain the healthiness of the mental appetite of a human animal, place in its hands a short, well-written, but not exciting treatise on some popular subject — a mental bun, in fact. If it is read with eager interest and perfect attention, and if the reader can answer questions on the subject afterwards, the mind is in first-rate working order. If it be politely laid down again, or perhaps lounged over for a few minutes, and then, ‘I can’t read this stupid book! Would you hand me the second volume of “The Mysterious Murder”?’ you may be equally sure that there is something wrong in the mental digestion.”

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Having fed my brain the feast of Lewis Carroll, I went on to plan our Sunday brunch.  Then Peter woke up and the two of us walked to the Fort Mason Farmers Market at 9:30 to get fresh produce for brunch and dinner.  All around us, people were jogging or walking their dogs.  San Francisco is a health conscious city.

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My favorite at the market is the dry-farmed tomatoes.  There are no other tomatoes in the world that are even close when it comes to the intensity of its flavor.  We had them with fresh Mozzarella cheese.  The natural flavor of everything was so perfect that we didn’t need to use Balsamic glaze or olive oil, not even salt and pepper.  I also made enough French toast and smoked-salmon egg scramble to feed an army.  So today is a day of abundance.  Not a day to lose weight.

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